SCOTLAND's leading universities are facing increasing pressure to close Chinese teaching institutions. 

The former rectors of both Glasgow and Edinburgh university have voiced concerns about Confucius institutes, which promote Chinese culture on campus in higher education as well as in Scottish schools. 

It comes after Rishi Sunak said last month that he would be prepared to overrule SNP ministers and university principals in Scotland to force their closure. 

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He has previously said that China is the “biggest long-term threat to Britain”. 

There are currently 30 Confucius institutes across the UK, including five in Scotland. 

Former rector of Glasgow University Aamer Anwar said: “For far too long there has been an overreliance on Chinese students, meaning without them many universities would face financial ruin. 

“In essence it has led to a lowering of academic standards, turning of a blind eye to the genocide of the Uighurs and self-censorship that in essence is brought about by institutes accused of being fronts for the Chinese regime and nothing more than Trojan horses. 

“Of course, they should be shut down.”

Chinese students account for £2 billion in revenue to British universities and contribute around a third of Glasgow University’s tuition fees. 

Funded by the Chinese government, Confucius institutes are effectively culture and language centres but critics have labelled them as propaganda tools as relations worsen between the West and China. 

The UK and others have been critical of China for detaining between 1 and 2 million people in so-called “re-education camps” between 2017 and 2019. 

Sunak has previously accused China of “stealing our technology and infiltrating our universities”. 

He continued: “Abroad, they are propping up Putin’s fascist invasion of Ukraine by buying his oil and attempting to bully their neighbours, including Taiwan.

“They are saddling developing countries with insurmountable debt and using this to seize their assets or hold a diplomatic gun to their heads. 

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“They torture, detain and indoctrinate their own people, including in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, in contravention of their human rights. 

“And they have continually rigged the global economy in favour by suppressing their currency.”

Sunak also said that he planned to implement an amendment to the Higher Education Bill which would force British universities to disclose any foreign funding partnerships of more than £50,000. 

Former Edinburgh University rector Ann Henderson said: “Many concerns have been raised about the activities of Confucius institutes on campuses and this needs to be looked at. 

“The impact of the pandemic, which temporarily restricted international students, including from China, coming to Scotland, should have acted as a wake-up call for the system that it has to future-proof itself against unforeseen shocks, particularly on the international stage.”

Liz Truss has also promised to crack down on the United Kingdom’s relationship with China, with her spokesperson saying that she had “helped lead the international response to increased Chinese aggression”.

The former rector of Glasgow University has called for Confucius institutes to close

They added: “This will only continue when she becomes prime minister and seeks to expand her network of liberty around the world.”

The Scottish government said: “As autonomous bodies, universities are responsible for their international academic links and partnerships. 

“However, we expect all universities to understand and manage the reputational, ethical and security risks associated with international partnerships."